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Lesbian Teacher Sues Michigan School for Retaliatory Firing

Lesbian Teacher Sues Michigan School for Retaliatory Firing
Sunnivie Brydum

A lesbian teacher in Michigan is suing her former school district for what she says was a retaliatory firing after she allowed the Diversity Club to put up a display honoring LGBT History Month in 2009. 

Brook Johnson was the faculty advisor to the Diversity Club at a high school in the Corunna Public School District, a small town west of Flynt, Mich., according to reports from Michigan's NPR station

Michigan Radio reports that after Johnson allowed students in the Diversity Club to post a display highlighting gay and lesbian celebrities, the school board ordered the display to be removed, saying it was in conflict with Corunna's values. The ACLU challenged the decision, prompting the school district to reverse its decision and permit the display. 

But that's when Johnson found herself ostracized and eventually fired, alleges the suit. 

"They wanted to punish her for exercising her First Amendment rights," Johnson's lawyer, Jon Marko, told Michigan Radio. "And because they disagreed with her, they were going to drive her out. And that's what they ultimately did and she was ultimately fired."

Michigan does not have any employment or nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, but Marko told Michigan Radio that Johnson's suit alleges the district discriminated against Johnson based on her sex, and violated her First Amendment and Equal Protection rights. 

"First Amendment is freedom of speech," said Marko. "That doesn't mean that because you disagree with someone's viewpoint or their speech that you can retaliate against them."

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